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by Derek Stanley
Imagine if you will. You're living on the planet Nubnub near the core of some Imperial noble's territory. Now there's a war that's been going on for nearly a decade, you've never really seen the war, well not much just a few beat up ships and injured soldiers on the Vid's, pictures of war but nothing local. One morning you wake up on your own, damn alarm didn't go off because there's a power outage. Now this isn't out of the ordinary so you're not terribly alarmed. You pick up the phone, or whatever the local equivilant is to tell your boss you're going to be late and you notice that the phone acting up, this wierd sqealie noise.
So you hustle it to get to work, cold shower, water heater operates off electric power. Cold cereal, you close the fidge quickly, don't wan't to lose any of that cold air. You'd prefer hot oatmeal but the cookers are all electic so you suffer in silence. Rushing out to your grav-car you notice that the local traffic net is down and there's only a fraction of the traffic you'd expect to see on a monday morning. Five minutes later you show up at the office, no power again, what you thought was just a local outage seems to have effected the whole city. So you walk up the thirty floors to your office, there's no coffee, no tea just cold water. None of the computers work, due in large part to the power outage so you and your friends sit around for most of the day listening to a portable radio someone abandoned in the lunchroom decades ago. One of the girls had a spare set of battaries in her desk and aparntly the radio station is running off a generator in their basement.
You start to hear stories, apparently the main powerplant for the city went critical sometime during the night and destroyed most of the underwater parts of the town. Emergency vehicles are everywhere trying to put out fires caused by drivers trying to log onto the traffic net and having their cars go wild and apparently a huge chunk of the Whiteside Arcology collapsed in the middle of the night when all three sets of back up gravitic generators failed to come on line. Things are looking bad so you and the people from work decide to pool your resources and spent the night at Dale's place because at least he has an emergency generator.
On your way home the sky is thick with smoke, somethings really wrong and you watch in horror as a public transit airfilm jumps it's tracks and tears through four blocks of industrial complex and residential housing. At home you quickly throw all you're perishable's into a bag for transport to Dale's house, working quickly you grab some clothes and a heavy parka, winter's just around the corner and you never know how cold it might get tonight.
Two hours later you show up at Dale's. Three of the ten of the ten from the office never show up. The fires continue on through the night, you watch in horror as the cities secondary power plant suddenly comes on line. Lights up half the city to a million candle power before going critical and nuking the entire south side in a blinding flash of supercritical plasma.
Four day's later you're begining to run low on food, the police had instituted a dusk till dawn curfu in an attempt to control the rioters. Dale suggests making a quick trip to your house to grab all your canned food and the remainder of the hydrogen from your grav-car's fuel tank to keep the generator running. When you get home you discover that most of your neighborhood has been systematically looted, a two day old corpse lies in your living room and anything of value has been systematically removed. Fortunately they were just after material goods and not food so you quickly clear out the cupboards and basement. Dale for some reason grabs all your knives, an old fashioned set of binoculars your grandfather gave you before scooping all the medical supplies he can find in your bathroom. Though you ask him why, Dale just grunts and tells you to grab the warmest clothes you can find. Twenty minutes late you finish loading up his truck when Edward and Delilah return from scouting out your neighbors houses. Dale looks happy with their prizes and you all hop back into the truck for the return trip.
On the fifth day things have gone from bad to worse, the authorities stopped trying to put out the fires when chuncks of the orbital A-Class starport began falling out of orbit. Though much of it burned up on re-entry a large chunk of it fell on the mountians to the south carving out a kilometer long scar in the planets surface and starting thousands of fires.
It's now ten days since the power went out. The sky is dark now, and the smell of smoke is everywhere. Pieces of the starport still streak across the skies at regular intervals. Dale shut off the generator nearly a week ago and packed you all up into his truck with the remains of your food and supplies. The looters had showed up the day before that and you'd killed ten of them before they finally fled, Dale decided he'd had enough and it was time to leave.
It's been fifteen day's now the burned out wreckage of a thousand car pile up chokes the Freeway in front of you. That first body in your house shocked you, you couldn't help but throw up, you've seen so many bodies now they don't even phase you. Sarah from accouting still cringes but you're numb. You have to abandon the truck and start walking
Nearly a month has passed, you count yourself among the lucky, you're still alive, finding food has become increasingly difficult and the canned food you started with ran out over a week ago. A pair of soldier joined up with you last week their unit had been over run by a starving mob. They've got rifles and some extra ammunition, your handgun's running preciously low. The hill top you're standing on overlooks a small town burned to the ground. A dozen empty vehicles lay abandoned on the side of the road. To conserve his lighter Dale's been pulling one of the lenses out of your binoculars and using it to light fires. He's a pretty smart guy that Dale, you probably wouldn't have made it this far without him, but winter's approaching and you still don't have any shelter or long term supplies. Dale says not to worry, but you can't help it.
The first snow fell last night, you feel pretty sorry for anyone not in door's like you and the rest of Dale's people. Dale knew about this small town nestled in a remote valley near the northern edge of the mountians, he had friends there, family you might say. Dale had always been afraid it might come to something like this so him and a group of his Scout Service buddies had made arraingements. Stockpiled enough supplies for a season, seed, some weapons and even a few other essentials. It's been more than two months since you've had the electricity to shave, but at least you're safe here, for a while at least. Who knows about tommorow, but today at least you're safe, warm and alive. Thats more than you can say for half the people on your planet and winter's just coming.
Could you make power? How?
Could you aquire food? How about perserve it?
What would you consider the bare essentials for survival? The clothes on your back? The clothes in your closet? A gun? A knife?
How long could you survive on a weeks rations? How would you build shelter? Keep warm? Could you start a fire with the contents of your pockets? What about in two months when your lighter runs out of fuel, what would you do then?
Think about it and we're only TL8, now imagine falling from TL15. Look at the contents of your pockets. Key's flat little pieces of metal yet we're totally screwed with out them, imagine if everything your life depended on suddenly stopped working. What would happen then?